Startup News Digest 3/29/19

The Big Story: Data privacy takes center stage. Engine Executive Director Evan Engstrom testified before the Senate Commerce subcommittee on consumer protection this week to discuss the impact privacy regulations have on startups. Evan stressed the need for lawmakers to craft a comprehensive national privacy framework that balances strong consumer protections with reasonable requirements for startups on bootstrap budgets.

The leaders of the Senate Commerce subcommittee on consumer protection—Chairman Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and ranking member Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)—are part of a group of senators working to draft federal data privacy legislation. During the hearing, they heard from witnesses about the importance of a set of strong privacy rules at the federal level that will provide protections for consumers across state lines without creating unintended consequences for startups and other small businesses.

The Federal Trade Commission also played a role in the privacy debate this week when it ordered some of the nation’s largest broadband providers to provide the agency with information about how they collect user data, who they share it with, and how they utilize it.

Policy Roundup:

EU approves sweeping overhaul of copyright rules. The European Parliament approved the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, which will require startups and other  online platforms to use expensive content moderation tools to police user-uploaded content.

Net neutrality bill moves forward. The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on technology voted to advance the Save the Internet Act, a bill that would reinstate the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality rules, which kept the Internet a level playing field for startups. A vote by the full committee is expected next week.

Lawsuit accuses Salesforce of abetting sex trafficking. Fifty women who say they are survivors of sex trafficking that occurred on the now-defunct website sued Salesforce in San Francisco state court, claiming that the company provided tools to help the platform engage in trafficking and profited off the ads.

HUD charges Facebook over ad discrimination. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development charged Facebook with housing discrimination, alleging that the platform’s targeted advertising tools violate the Fair Housing Act by by restricting who can view housing-related ads.

CFIUS cites Chinese ownership of Grindr as national security risk. Chinese gaming firm Beijing Kunlun Tech is planning to sell gay dating app Grindr after the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States said the company’s ownership of the service constitutes a national security risk.

In DC? Join startups on Capitol Hill next week for two great events.

Monday, April 1st at 1pm: MobileCoin, in conjunction with the Congressional Blockchain Caucus, will host a demonstration and presentation about blockchain payments using the Signal messaging app.

Thursday, April 4th at 2:30pm: Unified for Patent Reform will be hosting a briefing for staff to talk about how patent reform impacts everyone from startups to restaurants to retailers. Be sure to also check out our new patent video here.